Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

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Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

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I'm amazed at the obsession with having a male heir, as well as the apparent extraordinary difficulty in producing one. But when all possible male descendants are extinct, the Earldom disappears. An aristocratic tale of epic proportions, this gripping novel cleverly interweaves interviews, letters and historical fact . . . Fascinating' Easy Living Although he spent his early childhood in Soweto (where he knew political figures such as Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela) he had to finish his education in Lesotho where his father went into exile since 1963. This change of setting also meant a change of language for Mda: from isiXhosa to Sesotho. Consequently Mda preferred to write his first plays in English. For the record Bailey does not cover the rise of the Fitzwilliams. She takes great liberties assuming the reader is already familiar with the family and entirely omits the early chapters of their history without so much as a footnote of explanation. The title was created in 1716, but Bailey's chronicle doesn't begin until 1902 with the death of the 6th Earl Fitzwilliam leaving much of the family, not to mention the origins of their wealth and influence, shrouded in mystery. Whilst seething at the hatred and animosity that religion caused to relationships I was reminded of the medieval siege of where the victorious commander uttered “Kill them all. The Lord knows those that are his own". Does God give a monkey's about religion when he thinks of a life well lived ??? Centuries of history and local pride sacrificed on the altar of political expediency in the post war era while extravagant expenditure hastened the family's demise.

Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey | Waterstones

This is the extraordinary story of how the fabric of English society shifted beyond recognition in fifty turbulent years in the twentieth century. The male Wentworth line ran dry and the title passed matrilineally to the FitzWilliams. Ludicrously rich, the money came from coal. The 'Estate' employed and housed the people who worked the coal; most boys went 'down't' pit'. I recall slag heaps and mine shafts scarring the countryside and an almost feudal mentality. The class system was alive and thriving. To me the problem is that towards the beginning there’s a perfect balance of family “gossip” and contextual history but the more you do into the book the “gossip” element gets less and the history part increases. Now obviously I’d expect and indeed enjoy some history/setting for all this but for me it just tips too far that way. There are a lot of ‘just’ history books about this period I could buy after all. I do know the author struggled from a lot of the documentation being destroyed but I would have rather had a shorter book than what feels at times like padding. I can highly recommend this book. It’s now one for my favourites shelf and I will source a hard copy for my real life book shelf to sit alongside Fey's war.


The book brilliantly sets out the social differences of the time, the age old fight between capitalism and socialism. It also shows that wealth and titles really don't bring happiness. The weight of expectation surrounding the Fitzwilliam name, the in fighting to protect their name is shown in its brutal truth in this book.

Black Diamond: A Bruno Courrèges Investigation (Bruno Chief Black Diamond: A Bruno Courrèges Investigation (Bruno Chief

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and while I approached it thinking it would have the Downton Abbey vibe to it and be light and gossipy, I knew Catherine Bailey would bring her own twist to the story and enlighten and educate the reader along the way. The is a book where classes collide after years of miners and workers being oppressed. While the author informs us that vast amounts of Fitzwilliam papers and historical documents were destroyed she manages to weave together a very convincing and well thought out account from memories of living relatives to employees of the family and papers that survived through the years. A social history of coal mining, told through the eyes of one family, the owners of Wentworth, reputedly the biggest country seat in Britain. I absolutely loved this. It had all my favourite ingredients for a good history: social context; gossip and scandal; dynastic shenanigans; and what's more, it managed a very rare thing, it swayed me at one point from my own natural socialistic inclinations onto the side of the aristocracy! His first play, We Shall Sing for the Fatherland, won the first Amstel Playwright of the Year Award in 1978, a feat he repeated the following year. He worked as a bank clerk, a teacher and in marketing before the publication of We Shall Sing for the Fatherland and Other Plays in 1980 enabled him to be admitted to the Ohio University for a three-year Master's degree in theatre. He completed a Masters Degree in Theatre at Ohio University, after which he obtained a Master of Arts Degree in Mass Communication. By 1984 his plays were performed in the USSR, the USA, and Scotland as well as in various parts of southern Africa. The book gives a vivid picture of the yawning gap between the wealthy aristocracy and the workers who supported their lifestyle. Although the FItzwilliams were beneficent mine owners (unlike some of the purely corporate mining interests) the gap between the family and the miners was vast, and beginning in the 1920's with the rise of the Labour party, no amount of kindly charity from the big house was going to satisfy the workers' demands for a better life. Although the family survived the General Strike in 1926, the Depression and then World War II spelled the end of their financial empire. In the 1970s for days on end piles of family papers were burned in bonfires at Wentworth house in Yorkshire taking with it most of the late 19th and early 20th century history of the earls of Wentworth. This is the reconstructed story of the aristocratic Wentworth family from their glory days, flush with coal wealth at the end of the 19th century to their decline and fall in the 20th century.

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So how does this extensive fortune and massive house end up on the real estate market in 2014 in need of mass repairs? I cannot praise this book enough. I enjoyed this book so much. I found myself not being able to put it down from the moment I started reading it.

Black Diamonds Tour - Wentworth Woodhouse

Mda then returned to Lesotho, first working with the Lesotho National Broadcasting Corporation Television Project and then as a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lesotho. Between 1985 and 1992 he was director of the Theatre-For-Development Project at the university and founded the Marotholi Travelling Theatre. Together with his students he travelled to villages in remote mountain regions working with local people in creating theatre around their everyday concerns. This work of writing theatre "from the inside" was the theme of his doctoral thesis, the Ph.D degree being conferred on him by the University of Cape Town in 1989. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. Catherine Bailey chronicles the rise and fall of the Fitzwilliam coal mining dynasty in Yorkshire England.The sections on William, Lord Milton, heir to the 6th Earl and his son, Billy, who became the 7th Earl were the best in the book, IMHO. If you enjoy history, particularly British history, this is a great read. It has a little bit of a Downton Abbey feel which I liked and if you are interested in the period of lifestyles of the rich and aristocratic than this is a wonderful read. What makes the book particularly good is that as the years pass the focus varies, even if the common denominator is the family’s wealth from the mining of coal. A book just on the nationalization of the British coal industry could easily be boring and dry. Here there are exciting events, personal tales and intriguing questions about the family to be investigated. Here follows one example. The father of the seventh earl, Lord Milton, died before the death of the sixth. So the grandson, not the son, of the sixth became the seventh earl. Am I confusing you? Don’t worry, it is very clear in the book. Circumstances under which the seventh was born are extremely peculiar. He was born in Canada in 1872 in an Indian settlement on Lake Superior. His father had epilepsy which made him an unacceptable heir; there was need for a male heir without the taint of epilepsy. The more you learn the more your interest is piqued. Has the baby who was to become the seventh earl been exchanged for a healthy male child? Something fishy was certainly going on! We are given the known facts; they certainly make for an intriguing mystery. Each reader must decide for them self. The story is engagingly told. My point is that as the years pass we encounter not one but several such captivating episodes. History comes in between so you have a solid base on which to stand, but the book does not put you to sleep. An extraordinary tale of family feuds, forbidden love, civil unrest and the downfall of a mining dynasty

King coal | Books | The Guardian

Fans of "Downton Abbey" are led to believe that the Crawley family wealth comes from the earnings of the bucolic farms that surround Downton Abbey. However, if Julian Fellowes were more honest, he'd let viewers know that, in all probability, their large income was derived from coal just as it was for the Carnavon family in whose Highclere Castle the show is set. This book is the story of an even wealthier aristocratic family, the Fitzwilliams, who at the beginning of the twentieth century were the wealthiest family in England and whose wealth was derived from the labor of men and boys (some as young as eleven) who toiled underground for twelve to fifteen hours a day. Their county estate in south Yorkshire was called Wentworth and it was England’s largest private home, with 1,000 windows, and its park wall running for nine miles. When the sixth Earl Fitzwilliam died in 1902 he left four sons and his dynasty and fortune seemed secure. But the class war of the twentieth century combined with the family's own follies, brought it all crashing down around them. Wentworth is in Yorkshire and was surrounded by 70 collieries employing tens of thousands of men. It is the finest and largest Georgian house in Britain and belonged to the Fitzwilliam family.An enthralling, depressing and informative book that I 'enjoyed' in spite of much gnashing of teeth. The political aspect refreshed my memory of my modern History degree of fifty years ago. One of the best examples of 'Noblesse Oblige' on a county level through the Fitzwilliam family's benevolent paternalism and the loyalty it engendered in the estate's inhabitants. This contrasted sharply with various classes snobbery and the disastrous divisions caused by religion and politics. The demise of Wentworth and the Fitzwilliams is a riveting account of aristocratic decline and fall, set in the grandest house in England. But what I love about Bailey is that she always finds interesting aspects of British history. The scandal and the drama of real life plays out effortlessly in her writing. I find myself drawn in and captivated by what she is conveying.

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